Narendra Modi in fast forward
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Still, the verdict was humbling for Modi in some ways. The hero of Moditva in 2012 was not just Modi — because the Gujarati voter did not just vote the BJP back, but also hand-picked Modi's opponents. The old guard of the Congress will now be replaced with people who have grown up with Modi and go back to his RSS days — Keshubhai Patel and Shankersinh Vaghela. This was the six-crore Gujaratis' way of telling Modi that to be PM, he would have to temper governance with real inclusivity, much like former BJP PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who was of the same vintage but could also ride the bus from Delhi to Lahore without making it look like tokenism.
Somehow, when Modi raised the issue of Sir Creek being "handed over" to Pakistan on the eve of Gujarat elections, instead of whipping up nationalistic fervour, it created a buzz about "polarising" Hindu votes. Modi may be the BJP's poster boy and the party's best bet for the 2014 general election, but he has yet to mature into a leader that doesn't succumb to the temptation of flippantly raking up issues to stimulate vote-banks. Or was this an attempt to step into the boots of the Hindu Hriday Samrat, Bal Thackeray?
Over the last 10 years, he has been inclusive of minorities only to the extent of an "Eid Mubarak" greeting on Twitter or good wishes for Haj yatris before their pilgrimage. Thus, Ahmedabad's five-day carnival on the Kankaria lakefront (which is in Modi's constituency of Maninagar) beginning December 25 was launched not to celebrate Christmas, but instead to celebrate Vajpayee's birthday.
Muslims across Gujarat, even if they voted for the BJP, cannot forget that Modi wore every other kind of turban at the Sadbhavana Mission fasts but the one given to him by a Muslim cleric — unlike his counterpart in Madhya Pradesh, Shivraj Singh Chouhan, also from the BJP, who not only celebrated Eid but wore the cap and the keffiyeh with the Muslims on the occasion.